The Prince of Wales Route in Cork invented the concept of Irish tourism. In 1858 the Prince took the Cork and Bandon Railway across the county to Bantry, then travelled by road to Glengarriff and Kenmare, and onwards to Killarney.
The Royal imprimatur marked the route “as the most desirable and picturesque for Tourists” wrote the Leeds Mercury.
The western conclusion of the route would be marked by celebrated hotels: Vickery’s in Bantry; Ouvane Falls in Ballylickey; Ardnagashel, the Castle Hotel and Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff.
Generations later, a bunch of 7 or 8 people in Kinsale invented the idea of the food lover’s destination. In 1977, a gaggle of Kinsale restaurateurs created the first Gourmet Festival, held between October 26th and 28th. Eleven restaurants took part, the direct result of the formation of the Kinsale Good Food Circle, created the previous year. Gerry Galvin, of The Vintage Restaurant, was one of those participants, and wrote that the Gourmet Festival was “A most unusual Irish festival where food rather than drink was the focus.”
Cork has always had food and food tourism in its blood. As a county, it has fed the world with butter, and provisioned the British navy with salted beef.
The world’s first country house hotel, Ballymaloe House, was opened in 1964 by Myrtle Allen. In 1975 Cork held three Michelin stars for cooking: by Declan Ryan in Arbutus Lodge; in Ballylickey Manor in West Cork; and by Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry.
This deep background – Cork was also home to the first Craftsman’s Guild, and ignited the Irish Farmhouse Cheese movement – means the ley lines of Cork hospitality are strata deep.
Here are five destinations which we think epitomise that culture.